“The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Mark Twain

Friday Fiction: "Noisy Quiet"

Welcome to my contribution to Fiction Friday, hosted by Cat at A Work In Progress. Make sure that you head over to her blog and link up with your own fiction. Or, if you just want to read some great fiction (ALWAYS great in my opinion!), head over to catrinabradley.blogspot.com and check out the links there.
I wrote this entry for the Faithwriters Writing challenge earlier this year. It was the geography quarter, and the topic was South America. It is based on an actual experience I had about ten years ago. Hope you enjoy it!


"What are you doing up there?"

My husband, three inches taller than I am, is looking up at me, probably convinced I'm insane. And maybe he's right.

"It's beautiful from up here."

He chuckles. "It had quite an impact on you, didn't it?"

I nod. "Come on up."


I've never known quiet to be so noisy before. It's a good thing I'm exhausted.

The mattress looks inviting, but I suppose I should get out of these clothes first. It certainly can't hurt, with the sweat dripping down my body.

I peel off my boots, knee socks, pants, long-sleeved shirt, and, of course, my hat. I slip into a pair of shorts and a t-shirt--an outfit much more fitting for the air temperature.

I examine the bed for creepy crawly things. Finding none, I smile. I stretch out on my cot and look straight up. At least I can't see the sky.

Don't get me wrong--I like a star-studded view as well as, if not better than, the average person. But if I had to choose between protection from the elements and those beautiful twinklers, there's no contest. Dry is definitely my preference.

You see, it's supposed to rain tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after that. You get the picture. Walking around in it is one thing. But trying to sleep? Can't imagine it's doable: at least not for me.

It's not like I'm a victim of false advertising. This is the rainforest, for goodness sake. It's not like I was expecting five-star accommodations or bright, cloudless skies. When I offered to pay my own way to go on an Amazon rainforest adventure with three dozen middle schoolers, just so I could write a story for my local paper, and maybe get published in a national magazine, I knew I wouldn't be ordering room service. But somehow, the ruggedness--the roughness--of it, didn't hit me, until now.

Oh well. Part of the adventure, I suppose. I close my eyes and listen to that noisy quiet.

My ears are practically overloaded. There are at least a dozen different sounds, none of which seem to be man-made. The croak of frogs sounds familiar, but the other noises are completely foreign. Birds, perhaps? Maybe a monkey? Some animal I've never seen? Most likely. But perhaps, before the end of the week, I will.

I don't think I have ever been this enveloped in God's creation: certainly not since I acknowledged Him just five months ago. Nearly everything around me is evidence of His handiwork. How could I have ever believed this was an accident: a series of random scientific processes?

I think back over the day. The airports were a madhouse: especially O'Hare. The tween chatter didn't help much either. However, the beauty of the Andes as we soared above them did. And what a contrast between where we'd spent the first part of the day and the sparseness and primitivity of the Iquitos, Peru airport. I laugh, remembering the monkey on the shoulder of the elderly woman, and the fact that it almost grabbed the hat off my head. Then there was the hour-plus canoe ride up the Yarapa river, and the incredible view of the native people and wildlife along the shorelines.

Once we arrived at our home for the next week, we were all quite eager to get our legs moving. The plants were so vibrant. Even the insects were more brilliant in color. I was so engrossed; I didn't even notice the heat.

I focus again on the many noises of the wildlife around me, trying to guess what each animal sound is in turn. I may never know if I'm right, but it doesn't hurt to guess.

I have a feeling this is going to be quite a trip.


"Come up there? No thanks." He sits on the ground and looks up at me perched in our tree. "You just enjoy it yourself."

"I will." I close my eyes and listen to this different noisy quiet. Sure, I hear cars zooming past our house. But my ears, perhaps sensitized over the past week, pick up at least two different birds, the wind rustling through the leaves, and the movement of the grass as my husband shifts on the ground. For a moment, I forget I'm in my own front yard.

It was here waiting for me. Too bad I had to go all the way to the Amazon to realize it.


Thanks for reading! Be sure to stop by Cat's blog for more great fiction.


  1. Nice story! We've had people come to our house from the city and complain about not getting any sleep because of all the woodsy sounds. *smile*

  2. How often we miss the wonderful things that are right in our own back yard. Thank you for this story!

  3. Just this week I discovered a tiny brown bird - or several- in the back of our yard that makes a noise almost like a rattlesnake! Maybe a wren??? I was just out there to enjoy the evening and visit a neighbor's cat.

  4. I remember this story well because I loved it so much. That ending was twisty and meaningful and fun all at the same itme.

  5. Awww, Joanne, I loved this! Never been down to the rainforest, but I imagine it is breathtaking. Loved the little twist and lesson at the end. Thanks for sharing. Blessings!

  6. Our backyard is noisy, too, in the summer. Go out there in the winter, though, and it is silent as a tomb! What a difference a little snow makes, eh? Wonderful story, Jo. Beautiful ending, too!

  7. Love it! I remember this one. It was great! ^_^ Sometimes we go so far away for what we have right close next to us!

  8. I can picture you up that tree. Great story.

  9. What a great title! :) I love the "turnabout" ending! This was great fun with great descriptive writing.

  10. Beautiful descriptions and great lesson. We travel the world to realize the beauty God gave us at home.

  11. Loved this Jo! There's so much all around that we miss--constantly!


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